A U.S. judge has demanded Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) - Google comply with search warrants that entail customer emails that are stored outside the United States. A federal appeals court had reached the opposite conclusion in a similar case involving Microsoft. U.S. judge Thomas Rueter from Philadephia had ruled on Friday that transferring emails from a foreign server so that FBI agents could review them locally as part of a domestic fraud probe.
The judge stated that there was “no meaningful interference” with the account holder’s “possessory interest” in the data that is being pursued. “Though the retrieval of the electronic data by Google from its multiple data centers abroad has the potential for an invasion of privacy, the actual infringement of privacy occurs at the time of disclosure in the United States,” Rueter wrote.
Google had written in a statement on Saturday: “The magistrate in this case departed from precedent, and we plan to appeal the decision. We will continue to push back on overboard warrants.” The case involved warrants issued within the Stored Communications Act, a federal law from 1986 that tech companies and privacy advocates consider outdated.
The tech giant had noted that it breaks up emails into pieces to improve network performance and had no knowledge of where particular emails may be stored. Google stated that it complied with the warrants received by turning over data stored in the United States. Google receives over 25,000 requests annually from U.S. authorities regarding disclosures of user data in criminal matters.